DETROIT, MI… A new lawsuit filed against Fiat Chrysler (FCA) and Cummins states that the automaker knowingly sold hundreds of thousands of Dodge RAM 2500 and 3500 trucks equipped with a Cummins engine which has a defect that leads to lower gas mileage, non EPA-compliant emissions levels, and costly and frequent vehicle repairs, according to leading automotive law firm Hagens Berman.
According to the lawsuit, Dodge RAM owners report that efforts to fix the faulty emissions system dramatically affects engine performance and mileage, with MPG dropping as much as 25 percent.
When the selective catalytic converter (SCR) system breaks down, the filter gets clogged, requiring more fuel to be injected to burn it off, according to the complaint. This drastically reduces the truck's MPG, costing consumers more in fuel.
Additionally, when FCA dealers attempt to fix the SCR system defect, they often simply “flash” the computer to prompt the truck to burn more fuel to clean the filter. When the computer in an affected Dodge RAM 2500 or 3500 is flashed, it causes the truck’s MPG to decline significantly.
If you own or lease a 2013-2017 Dodge RAM 2500 or 3500 with a 6.7-L Cummins diesel engine, you may be entitled to compensation for this defect that inhibits your car’s performance. Hagens Berman to find out more about the lawsuit against FCA and Cummins.
The lawsuit, filed July 3, 2017, in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan, seeks damages and equitable relief for FCA and Cummins’ misconduct related to the design, manufacture, marketing, sale and lease of affected Dodge trucks with unlawfully high emissions.
The complaint hits both defendants with charges of fraudulent concealment, breach of warranty, violations of the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO), and violations of several state consumer protection laws.
In addition to manufacturing and marketing vehicles with an emissions system that they knew would not work in the long term, FCA and Cummins also failed to fix another discrete issue related to the “washcoat,” or sealant applied to the SCR, which also contributed to illegally high emissions. FCA and Cummins allegedly knew about the washcoat defect for years – at least as early as 2014 – but failed to take action to mitigate the drop in the trucks’ performance or prevent the illegally high levels of pollution emitted by affected RAM trucks.
“Instead of putting consumers first and acting to fix the washcoat defect, FCA and Cummins wasted time and resources, pointing fingers and suing one another, using the defect as leverage in their dispute,” said Steve Berman, managing partner of Hagens Berman. “We consider this case as a smoking gun - clearly FCA and Cummins were fully aware of this washcoat defect. But they placed other priorities above its obligation to fix its defective product and to remedy the harmful pollution these trucks are emitting.”
The complaint states that in the lawsuit between Cummins and FCA, Cummins maintained that a recall to fix the defect was “in the public interest to ensure that Vehicles which are not emissions[-]compliant are appropriately recalled and remedied to avoid future harm to the environment.” According to Cummins, the environmental impact “could be significant.” Despite this imminent harm, Cummins contends, “FCA refuses [to effect the recall] for one reason – money. FCA is holding both Cummins and its own customers hostage to FCA’s commercial demands.”
Despite knowing that the Vehicles failed to meet EPA requirements, both defendants continued to advertise and represent that the trucks were EPA-compliant, even claiming that the Cummins engine was “the lowest emitting diesel engine ever produced.”
“Our firm had already uncovered the dirty truth that FCA cheated emissions testing in its 2014-2016 EcoDiesel vehicles, and in its earlier 2500 and 3500 trucks,” Berman said. “This stands as another instance of its willingness to go to any length to conceal its underhanded tactics and avoid responsibility for issues that directly negatively impact the people supporting its business.”
The complaint cites the experiences of named plaintiffs from Michigan, Alabama, Florida and Pennsylvania who had their vehicles flashed by dealership mechanics. One of the suit’s named plaintiffs, Forrest Poulson, had his truck flashed three times. On one occasion, he asked his dealership mechanic why they were doing it. The mechanic replied, “I will deny this later, but I can tell you that the PCM updates are diverting fuel into the exhaust system to make it burn hotter so that it reduces the amount of emissions leaving the tailpipe.” The mechanic also told him that upwards of 25 percent of the fuel is being diverted through the exhaust system to heat up the emissions, according to the filed complaint.
The lawsuit against Fiat Chrysler is the latest in a series of automotive and emissions cases brought on behalf of Hagens Berman’s automotive legal team, in an effort to uncover instances of illegally polluting vehicles, defects and other wrongdoing committed by the world’s largest automakers. Hagens Berman has been a leader in other recent high-profile cases including unlawful emissions in the VW scandal and has been the pioneering firm uncovering diesel scandals involving other automakers including Mercedes, General Motors’ Silverado and Sierra diesel trucks, and GM’s Chevy Cruze. Hagens Berman has also previously filed emissions suits against Fiat Chrysler regarding its 2007-2012 Dodge RAM 2500 and 3500, and its 2014-2016 Dodge RAM 1500 and Jeep Grand Cherokee EcoDiesel, which led to a formal investigation by the EPA.